Showing posts with label muscles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label muscles. Show all posts

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The arbor vitae

The former owner's lady friend decided to plant eleven arbor vitae in front of the house, along the parking strip.  They were about a foot tall when she planted them, according to my next door neighbor.  They're a little bigger now.

It was impossible to see when I backed out the driveway, and it made it difficult to see if there was oncoming traffic when you came around the corner.  A lot of people plant arbor vitae in their side or back yards to create privacy but I rarely see them in the front yard.  I hated them.

My friend David is a farmer/landscaper/savior who volunteered to remove the arbor vitae.  All eleven of them.  For free.  He's amazing.

He started by sawing down the main body.  He was really fast at it.

Once most of it had been removed he very laboriously popped the stump and root system.  He used a long pry bar and a whole lot of muscle.  While he worked to remove the stumps I would chop down the next tree.

It took all day.  I'm really slow with an axe.








I felt oddly naked inside the house now.  I was so used to being hidden behind those overgrown shrubs.  So many of my neighbors stopped by to say how happy they were to see them gone.  And now I can back out of my driveway without getting sideswiped.  David came the day we pulled out the furnace to yank out the last three stumps, finished in record time, then helped us pull out the furnace.  Such a badass.  His fiancee is a lucky lady.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Removing the furnace

One of the things that kept me tossing and turning the night before I put a bid on my house was the furnace.  It was original, it was huge, it was most likely not in working order.  It would probably cost between $3000-5000 to replace.

Fun little aside: when you buy a house people will walk through your house, pointing out things that need fixing.  Then they pick a number out of thin air and tell you that's how much it will cost to fix.  It doesn't matter if they own a house or not, whether they have actually completed the project in question, they will have a figure for you.  They'll sound like they know what they're talking about.

I always nod and then double the amount they say in my head.  This has worked almost every time.

But back to the furnace.  I knew it was going to be expensive, I just didn't know exactly how expensive.  I really grappled with whether to buy a house that needed a new furnace right out the gate.  I called two sets of friends, both couples who had bought a house in the last five years and had done a lot of fixing and remodeling.  They both assured me that this was not a deal breaker, that most houses in Portland would need a new furnace soon.  They totally talked me off the cliff and I so appreciated it.

I brought in a few bids for the furnace.  The first one was really expensive.  The second one was from Jacobs and they created a bid for a high efficiency furnace, as well as a standard 80% efficiency one.  With the current tax refunds, I could get  $1500 back from the federal government, $350 from Oregon, and $100 from the Energy Trust if I bought the high efficiency furnace.  Conveniently, the high efficiency furnace was about $1900 more than the 80% furnace, all of which I could recoup with the tax rebates.  I decided to do six-months-same-as-cash financing so I could put the set-aside furnace money in savings to earn a little interest.  This also gave me a cash reserve, should something catastrophic happen with the house. *knock on wood*

Once I had that figured out I scheduled to have the new one put in.  I opted to remove the old furnace myself because this would save between $500 and $1000.  By "remove it myself" I mean "call the guys."

The guys, they are amazing, beautiful friends.  But let's look first at the old furnace.  It was sort of beautiful in that I'm-from-1939 kind of way.

Are these guys still in business? I doubt it.


I made a huge breakfast, I bought a lot of beer, and I borrowed two sawzalls, an angle grinder, and a sledgehammer.  I also bought safety goggles and work gloves.  I made vague promises of destruction and demolition.

Unfortunately for the guys, they didn't get to use the sledgehammer.  They mostly got to use wrenches and screwdrivers.  We needed to keep the shell of the furnace intact so the ductwork wouldn't collapse, so they mainly labored on removing 70 year old bolts.

And oh my god, you guys, there were approximately 90 million bolts on this thing.

Stephen was SO AMPED to use the power tools.  Whenever a bolt was especially difficult to remove he would ask, "Should we use the angle grinder?"  I think they did actually use it twice, which was about 1000 times less than they would have liked.

I'm not going to lie.  My basement smelled like a locker room.


Once they got the door (which I kept) off  the front, they had to deal with the main burner.  Is it a burner?  The big heavy thingee.

We estimated this thing weighed about 750 pounds. I started to sweat about how we were going to get this thing out of the basement.

We got this flask-y looking thing off the back (more wrenching) and called a scrap metal collector from Craigslist.  He jetted over with a truck and a heavy duty dolly.

The six of them hauled that monstrosity up the narrow basement stairs, which was the most terrifying thing I've had to endure in a long time.  There is nothing worse than having to watch people do something dangerous when you can't help in any way, save from yelling, "Be careful!"

These sweet men labored all morning removing this thing and they were still so cautious about my new kitchen floors.  Scholars and gentlemen, every one of them.

Z ran 13 MILES before he came over to help and he still had strength to play air guitar.  Badass.

They looked like this all over.


Aren't they beautiful?

The whole process probably took about two and half hours, start to finish.  If I had to do it all over again I would not have asked my friends to do this.  The burner *did* end up containing asbestos and we were not wearing masks.  I will feel guilty about this forever and ever.

Now it was all ready for the new furnace to be installed.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Day 6: Manly men!

Another issue that hung up my closing was the shed on the back of the house.  It was rotting and not truly anchored to the house anymore.  My insurance company required that I remove it within thirty days or they wouldn't cover me.  So instead of installing laminate flooring the boys got to rip apart the shed.

They had such a good time.  After pulling some nails out they decided they could just yank the thing down.


Small problem: I had neglected to think about how we'd get this out of the backyard.  My friend had even stopped by that morning *with his truck* and I didn't even think about swapping cars.  So dumb.

A few frantic phone calls later and I was headed to the Home Depot to rent a flat bed truck.  The previous owner had stored 17 bags of concrete in the shed. At some point these got waterlogged, which meant we had about 1600 pounds of concrete pillows to move out of the shed.

All together we took two trips to the dump, with a total of 2200 pounds of materials.  I mostly fetched beers and took pictures on this project, making these guys very good friends indeed.  My favorite part was when we finished getting all the debris into the truck and Z quipped, "The best part is that they'll never know where the shed was."